Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
It wasn’t pretty or flashy, but in the end it got the job done. The Havre High girls basketball team used a remarkable effort on the defensive end of the floor Saturday night to defeat the Butte Central Maroons 49- 28 in a Central A conference game at the HHS gymnasium. The game was all about defense for the Ponies, as they stifled the Maroons offense with pressure defense from the opening tip until the final buzzer. The Ponies held Butte Central to just eight field goals in the entire game and just 11 points in the second half to earn their fourth consecutive victory and their fifth in their last six games. In fact, the HHS defense was so stifling in the second half that at one point Butte Central went over 10 minutes without a field goal and made just one shot in the first 15:10 of the second half. “I think that just talks to how good our team is playing on defense right now,” HHS head coach Dustin Kraske said. “We just get after teams and put a lot of pressure on them. Tonight, we put a lot of pressure on Butte Central and they just couldn’t handle it.” On the offensive end, the Ponies weren’t bad either as Katie Mariani poured in a game-high 16 points in the victory. Tricia Samson also had eight points for Havre. Hope Hedges contributed with eight points. “I thought that Katie did a pretty good job tonight,” Kraske said. “She shot the ball pretty well and it didn’t look like she scored as many points as she ended up having. We also got some great play from our bench. Christina Armstrong probably played her best game of the year for us and Stacey Sheppard had a great game doing the things that don’t get your name in the paper.” Havre held the Maroons without a scorer in double figures. Kelli O’Leary had nine points to lead the Maroons. Brooke Pokorny also had eight points in the loss. The Ponies took an early 15-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and pushed it to 32-17 at halftime before outscoring the Maroons 17-11 the rest of the way to wrap up the 21-point win. On Friday night, the Ponies traveled to Lewistown to take on the Eagles in a Central A conference battle. The Eagles jumped out to a 22-19 lead at the end of the first half, as they hoped to spring the upset on the Ponies. However, the Ponies battled back in the third quarter, outscoring the Eagles 15-12 to tie the game at 34-34 heading into the fourth quarter. Then, with the game tied, the Ponies finished off the Eagles with great defense and some sharp shooting from sophomore guard Sarah Blessum. Havre held Lewistown to a measly one point in the fourth quarter giving the Ponies an important 45-35 road victory. “Our defense in the fourth quarter was just tremendous,” Kraske said. “Lewistown did a great job of forcing us to play too fast in the half court offense. But after the first half we started to play and we did what we had to do.” Blessum hit three treys in the game on her way to a game-high 15 points in her best performance of the season. “Sarah came off the bench and hit some really big shots in the second half,” Kraske said. “Her shooting was a big reason why were able to come back and get the win.” Samson also had a solid game for Havre, scoring 11 points in the victory. Mariani added seven points for HHS. Once again Havre held its opponent with a single scorer in double figures. Kallie Spraggins and Josie Sweeney each totaled eight points for the Eagles in the loss. Kelly Richter also pitched in with seven points. With two key victories this weekend, the Ponies record now rests at 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Central A. “I think we are playing some good basketball right now,” Kraske said. “I still think that we have a lot of room to get better as the season goes on, but right now we are right where we want to be.” Havre will be in action again next Friday when they play host to the Browning Indians.